Madagascar’s Ahmad is the new leader of African football after ousting long-serving Confederation of African football president Issa Hayatou in a stunning upset at the organisation’s Congress in Ethiopia on Thursday.
Ahmad polled 34-20 in a shock victory that was more about ending Hayatou’s 29-year tenure than a vote for the former government sports and minister.
Ahmad had not been considered a worthy candidate just months ago but momentum built up over the last months and culminated in a shock defeat.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino was seen as the kingmaker as he had made no bones about his support for change.
The 70-year-old Hayatou‚ seeking an eighth term‚ had been expected to have a tough challenge but few foresaw the decisive nature of the win for Ahmad‚ who now leads an organisation with an increasingly new generation of football association presidents among its members.
Ahmad promised more money to member associations‚ business class travel and more consultation in a speech he delivered minutes before the vote‚ displaying a touch of charisma previously lacking in his campaign.
Hayatou‚ obviously confident of victory‚ did not ask for a chance to address the Congress before the vote was taken.
South Africa voted first in the lengthy process with their ballot being delivered by Lucas Nhlapo‚ the vice president of the South African Football Association.
This is because SAFA president Danny Jordaan was one of scrutinizers‚ who counted the ballot papers in the corner of African Union hall.
After the result was announced Ahmad was carried back to the podium on the shoulders of his supporters while Hayatou adjourned the Congress for lunch.
Elections for posts on the CAF executive committee and FIFA Council will happen later after lengthy opening proceeding which saw changes to the statues rejected by delegated in a bewildering vote against reforms demanded by FIFA.